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When June 1 comes around the thermometer normally lets us know that it’s summer, and with its onset the end of the fall-to-spring music season and the start of musical offerings in the hot days ahead. Both nasty daytime heat and hopefully cooler evenings can be expected in Cincinnati this year along with some great music-making. Here’s a quick look back and an ever quicker look ahead.


Cincinnati’s 140-year old Music Hall re-opened in October after an extensive renovation that spruced up the grand old venue, providing better acoustics than ever before.  Maestro Louis Langrée led a memorable concert that closed with Bernstein’s Candide Overture, with the maestro reminiscing about the show’s “Make Our Garden Grow” anthem and its implications about the future or music in Cincinnati.

Later on the refurbished Memorial Hall hosted Metropolitan Opera star Jamie Barton, who gave Matinee Musicale Cincinnati’s 105th Season (www.matineemusicalecincinnati.org) a sell-out concert in January, reminding us of what a gem this group is and what musical treasures it provides.

Sam Martin’s Cincinnati Song Initiative (www.cincinnatisonginitiative.org) then in its third season gave proof that the all-about-song group is here to stay.

Multi-tasker par excellence Ixi Chen had her concert:nova achieve its eleventh season (www.concertnova.com) as it brought us all a half-dozen cutting edge concerts, now augmented by an additional late-night series, both of which broke barriers and erased preconceptions about what concert music should be.

Jill Jantzen‘s Salon 21 (www.salon21.org) hit the ground running as Cincinnati’s newest kid on the musical block with its petite salon concerts of mostly piano music mixing classics and a hip 21st century attitude in rep.

The Dayton Opera put on the best-ever in my memory The Consul, a Gian Carlo Menotti opera tailor-made for our tempestuous times, with Karah Shay Thompson, Cindy Sadler, Tyler Alessi and Ken Shaw flawlessly cast in key roles, under the superlative direction of Gary Briggle and Patrick Reynolds perfectly pacing the Dayton Philharmonic in the pit.

And then my all-time favorite Broadway songstress, Audra McDonald flew in for a smashing concert backed up by the Cincinnati Pops.



At home but not alone I enjoyed listening and reviewing and in several instances being stunned by several great releases, two out of dozens linger in my memory. First,  the protean Rumanian pianist Matei Varga‘s CD, EARLY DEPARTED on the SONO LUMINUS label, featuring music by two of his Rumanian fellow countrymen: pianist-composers, Tudor Dumitrescu and Dinu Lipatti, augmented by Leoš Janáček‘s In the Mists.

We said goodbye to the great Russian baritone Dimitri Hvorostovsky listening to him still in top form in the title role of Rigoletto, in a Delos release, his last recording ever.


It used to be the Cincinnati Zoo Opera. It’s now out of the zoo and finally back in Music Hall, with a line-up that includes Verdi’s La Traviata, Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea and a couple of contemporary operas: Another Brick on the Wall and As One. (www.CincinnatiOpera.org).

And finally the indispensable Summermusik, a nickname for the wonderfully hyperactive Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra (www.ccocincinnati.org) that this summer will again surprise and stimulate us with its assortment of pub crawls, Sunday afternoon mini-concerts and several main events, led by the energetic maestro Eckart Preu.

Music is an ephemeral art. No sooner the last note is sounded, the composition is gone. So we hold on to all thee musical memories just waiting for the next one to come and help keep us alive.

Rafael de Acha

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